Jun 27, 2012

The Fine Art of Ministry Leadership

As I now get deeper into my 40's, I find myself more and more on the teaching end of ministry to younger ministers that God has entrusted to my care.  One of the things I see in many of them that I recognized in myself many years ago is the tension to get frustrated with the process of doing ministry, especially ministry in long-established churches like the one I currently serve in.  Oftentimes when we are young we forget about taking the time to remember that while we may have all the right theology and all the right methodology, we also have to work through deeply established patterns and procedures.  In some cases, attitudes, values, and behaviors have been ingrained for decades and across many generations.  Somewhere in my 20 year ministry pilgrimage, God began to reveal to me the fine art of leading through some of these difficult waters.  Here are a few lessons about being a leader I find myself passing along often:

1.  Being the leader often means that you see most matters long before everyone else.  That's part of being the leader.  You are in a leadership position probably because you have an ability to see things long before most others do.  It may be that you have a hightened sense of discernment.  It may be because you are much more well-read on the topic than everyone else.  Whatever the case, leadership is about getting everyone else to see the same thing you saw a long time ago.

2.  Being the leader often means that you see things clearer than most everyone else.  Not only can you see long before, but you often have a clearer sense of how things should go and how everything should function.  I often have said, "I always think I am right, and most of the time I am."  That's because I have found that God has given me strong leadership gifts.  Some of this giftedness is the ability to see the big picture of something God has birthed in me much clearer than everyone else.  Leadership is about helping to sketch out the picture for everyone and then begin to color in the lines.  Many times young leaders get so frustrated because the people around them can't see everything like they do.  However, have you taken the time to color in the picture for them?  Work to bring color and clarity before you ask for buy-in.

3.  Being the leader often means that you see things with greater urgency than most everyone else.  This is especially true in the church world.  We are often dealing with matters of eternal consequence. We often deal with matters of deep doctrinal conviction. In a business world if a bad decision is made, it could cost the company a lot of dollars.  In the church world if a bad decision is made, it could cost someone eternity with God. This urgency creates in most leaders a great deal of impatience with people who don't get it.  This impatience can cost us trust and leverage with the very people we are trying to lead.  It's important to learn to distinguish between what is urgent and what is critical.

Learning the fine art of ministry leadership takes time and trial and error.  It requires growing in the area of wisdom which often occurs the longer we work in ministry.  It requires a teachable spirit and praying for God to lead you as you lead others.  However, I have found that this type of leadership is a learned art.  It's not something that you are either born with or not.  Oftentimes it is an acquired skill. The sooner you put these lessons to memory, hopefully, the better your ministry leadership will be.